Polling Trump

September 11, 2019

Public opinion polling, especially of presidents and elections, has become a huge cottage industry in this country employing thousands and raking in millions of dollars from campaigns and political organizations anxious to determine the preferences of Americans. Needless to say, polling outfits are in intense competition to make the claim that they are the most accurate and the best predictor of outcomes.

As this country heads toward a still distant national election there are almost daily polls on the job performance of Donald Trump, the chances of his reelection and the popularity of his Democratic challengers.  One of the most interesting developments in the polling race is the mini war of public opinion data crunching between the Rasmussen organization and all the more well known pollsters such as Quinnipiac, Monmouth, CNN, Politico, Reuters, Marist, NBC/Wall Street Journal and ABC/Washington Post.

To make a long story short, Rasmussen was one of the very few pollsters that got the 2016 election outcome correct showing that Donald Trump would win the presidency. Since Rasmussen is often viewed as an “outlier” pollster and according to some a front for conservative points of view, its correct prediction of a Trump victory sticks in the craw of the establishment polling organizations. The folks at Rasmussen waste little time in pointing out that in this election cycle there’s is the most accurate appraisal of Trump’s popularity and presidency.

Why this is important is because currently Rasmussen’s polling is far different than most if not all of the rest of the more well known organizations in terms of assessing Trump’s job performance and his chances for a repeat of his 2016 victory. While the establishment pollsters have Trump in the neighborhood of the low 40 percent range in terms of job performance and popularity, Rasmussen has the President in the high 40 percent range ( and many times over 50 percent) in job performance and the same with his overall popularity.

Now I am not in any way an expert on polling techniques in terms of sample size, demographic identification, and likely voters vs. registered voters, but Rasmussen boldly claims that most of the establishment polling that is being done today is seriously flawed and biased against President Trump. Of course if Rasmussen is correct about the current status of Trump the president and Trump the Republican candidate for reelection, then the Democrats are kidding themselves about taking the presidency in 2020 and are following the flawed strategy of Hillary Clinton who bought into the erroneous polling numbers that showed she was way ahead in 2016.

Perhaps Rasmussen got lucky in 2016 with its call of a Trump victory and perhaps all the current pollsters have fixed their models so that their current analysis showing Trump in deep trouble are on the mark. It is way too early to speculate on where the 2020 race for the presidency stands and I always wonder whether all those phone calls to Americans get a truthful answer or whether voting decisions are made in a split second while filling out the ballot. Whether Rasmussen is right or wrong this time around or its competitors have a better handle on American political opinion will certainly shape campaign strategy, but Democrats beware- they ignored Rasmussen in 2016 and the rest is history.

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Fear and The Flag

July 24, 2019

Say what you want about President Trump being an “idiot”, a “liar”, a ” racist”, and “unfit for office”, the guy knows how to speak to Main Street Americans and use the language that gets them nodding their heads in agreement. The Democrats can yell about the rule of law, congressional oversight, democratic values and constitutional principles till they are blue in the face, but Trump’s ability to tap into the innermost fears and patriotism of Americans is a winning strategy.

Americans love their country, their flag, and their citizen soldiers; Americans fear crime, government give-aways, and constant harping at what’s wrong with this country. Americans also love strong leaders, plain speaking politicians, and allies of the forgotten folks; Americans fear the elites, the media and liberal political correctness.

Sure the recent controversy about four US representatives of color is racist in tone and delivery and targets strong women who are smart and not afraid to speak their mind. But sadly far too many Americans do not like strong women, especially women of color who challenge the President of the United States. Also, too many Americans and certainly our president have forgotten or have no clue that everyone in this country except native Americans is either an immigrant, a refugee or someone who successfully attained asylum status.

But those details are not strong enough to break down the political culture of our country that is built on fear and the flag. Americans basically want to feel secure, prosperous and proud. They now have a president who taps into their fears and their patriotism by calling out football players who take a knee during the national anthem, Democrats who play to the two coasts rather than the working class heartland, and members of Congress who want to lead the revolution.

Democrats and progressives just don’t seem to understand the innate sources of our national psyche. Understanding the constitution, the Bill of Rights and our governing norms and traditions is all well and nice, but if their objective is to remove the President in 2020 and take the Republicans out of the Senate then Democrats and progressives have to respond to the climate of fear in this country and proudly embrace country, flag and our military. It’s all well and good to make promises about student loan forgiveness or green policies or soaking the rich, but how about Democrats and progressive talking  real tax relief for the working class, going after the rapacious banking system, and supporting the agenda of America’s union movement.

Currently, Democrats and progressives are too often seen as pro illegal immigrant, pro welfare state, and anti business. Democrats and Progressives need to take a page out of Trump’s playbook and show Americans what real patriotism means, why they will provide security and prosperity and why their objective is real reform not revolution.

President Trump continues to be unpopular, but not by much. But if his campaign of fear and the flag is allowed to continue without a vigorous response based on security, prosperity and real patriotism, the Democrats could be toast come November, 2020.


Strong Economy, Weak Values

May 15, 2019

Critics of President Trump, especially liberals, often complain that he and his administration have either attacked, ignored or dismantled fundamental constitutional principles and norms such as adherence to the rule of law, support for the system of checks and balances with a co-equal legislative branch, and the importance of an open and free press. Added to these charges are the now over 10,000 proven lies and misstatements by the President and the growing list of scandals and corruption by members of his inner circle of cabinet members and advisers. We now live in a time when”constitutional crisis” is an oft-used term that suggests this country is experiencing a democratic decline, or worse yet a move toward authoritarianism.

And yet with a strong economy that boasts low inflation, low unemployment, solid growth, vibrant stock market numbers, and for most Americans more money in their pockets, there is scant discussion among the general public and certainly among Trump’s base about the obvious challenges to constitutional principles that have guided this nation since the early days of the Republic. Trump’s directive to his staff to ignore Congressional requests to testify before committees, his refusal to turn over his tax returns, the attacks on the FBI and the intelligence community, and his not so subtle acceptance of right wing hate, violence and wack-job conspiracy theories are too often greeted by a near majority of Americans with a casual shrug or a silence that signals consent.

Why has America entered a time when our most cherished document, the Constitution,  the Bill of rights, and long standing procedures and governing values, are so easily dismissed as not terribly important? There, of course, is no simple answer to this scary predicament; it is not enough to say that too many Americans want to “stick it” to the liberal elite or that Trump’s army of ” low educated” voters have become the voice of the nation or that Trump represents an angry revolt of those disgusted with government.

My take on this real threat to our democracy is a sad and growing ignorance of what this country stands for, what hundreds of thousands of men and women died for on the battlefield, and what our forefathers and mothers envisioned as the “shining city on a hill”. During my youthful years as a political science professor I would take student groups to Washington D.C. and visit among many monuments, the National Archives where the Constitution is encased in glass. Those visiting the Constitution would always pass by and whisper in a kind of governmental reverence, akin to going to church or reading the Bible. These days the National Archives is not a destination site and a declining number of Americans have never read the Constitution or the thinking of the writers in forming a “more perfect Union.”

There is certainly nothing wrong with feeling great about a booming economy, but it is deeply disturbing to see a growing number of Americans show little understanding or support for our governing values or hail the President of the United States for blatantly working to tear down our democratic heritage. The Constitution and the amendments are not exciting reading, but the entire document is rather short and can be examined in the time it takes to watch the last episode of Game of Thrones.

We remain a great country with enormous potential, but these last two years we have become a people who care too little about our governing values and are too willing to follow a president who I suspect has never read the Constitution and cares less about the principles that define our democracy and indeed our nation. My advice – read the Constitution and support the values expressed in that wonderful document.


The Art of Political War

April 28, 2019

The score of Democrats seeking to lead their party into the fire of the 2020 presidential election are desperate to find the right mix of policy, personality and pugnaciousness to remove Donald Trump from the White House. At this point in the electoral process none of the challengers admit to finding the right approach, in fact it is fair to say that many of them are worried that the strong economy and a solid Trump base will make it difficult to grab the golden ring of the presidency.

Now, I don’t claim to have the answer  to the right approach to taking on President Trump, but I came across a quote the other day from the Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu, who authored The Art of War, a book that has become a classic of political and military insight and strategy that might hold the answer. Sun Tzu offered his advice on acquiring power and control by stating, ” It is the unemotional, reserved, calm and detached warrior who wins, not the hothead seeking vengeance and not the ambitious seeker of fortune.”

Granted that Trump won the White House by being a hothead who sought vengeance in the name of the ” low educated” and then proceeded to use his position to advance his fortune. But 2020 is not 2016, and there are growing signs that the American electorate is getting a bit tired of the Trump act with all the hyperbole, goofy ideas, outright lies and dangerous directions. The Trump base remains solid but those independents are starting to wonder whether it is  worth it as a country to have four more years of the circus.

The Democratic challengers will likely be tempted to fight fire with fire as Trump uses his Twitter account to call people silly names and insult reasonable policy positions, but Sun Tzu may have it right when he talks about how to win as he recommends warriors reject hotheaded vengeance and fortune seeking and embrace calm and unemotional detachment. After four years of Trump, the American people may just be ready for a leader who approaches the job of running this country as an adult not an eighth grader.

Right now Trump has the economy on his side and many voters will likely not want a change of leadership, but you can be sure that he will run a campaign of verbal retribution and half truths and spend less time and effort on pocketbook issues. By battling the Twitter tirades of the President with calm and reserved responses and attractive policy prescriptions to correct the decline of the middle class and gross income inequality, the Democratic challenger, whoever he or she is, may find a winning strategy.

 


Trump and the GOP’s Winning Strategy

April 19, 2019

Say what you want about Trump and the Republicans being corrupt liars, benefactors of the rich and well-born, media bashers and purveyors of conspiracy theories, they know how to frame a message that not only holds their political base but also gives them enough support among independents to forge a winning coalition in 2020.

The Democrats are clueless when it comes to countering the right-wing message built on fear of immigrants, support for a strong military, anti-abortion, demonizing social programs, and calling out liberal women as a danger to our national security. These positions may be outrageous and dangerous to many Americans in the ever-diminishing middle of the political spectrum but they make sense to Trump supporters who now are told that the President was sent by God. Throw in a red-hot economy and the Democrats will be in the fight of their life trying to retake the White House.

The question that has always bedeviled the Democrats since Trump took the presidency is how to respond to all the attacks on long established norms of policy and procedure, the gross avalanche of lies, and the ever-growing corruption. Trying to adopt a measured posture with facts and media appearances on CNN and MSNBC has not worked. Pelosi, Schumer, Sanders and the rest are always on the defensive offering solutions to issues on their agenda but not dealing with what’s on the mind of 45-50% of the nation.

Medicare for All, the Green Plan, taxing the rich may put a small dent in the protective covering of the Trump base, but it is no match for the secret weapon of the President and the GOP – fear of a liberal takeover of government. Of course the 2020 election will be about the economy, jobs, and growth, but it’s that extra edge of fear that may carry day for Trump and the GOP. If the Democrats want to rid the country of Trump and GOP control of the Senate they will have to talk about illegal immigration, military might, abortion, social program costs and the slide toward liberal big government. So far there has been little evidence that the Democrats know how to win over even a small portion of the Trump base; that’s a real electoral problem.

 


Democrats Forget the Real Issues

March 20, 2019

With the national economy going full blazes, jobs plentiful and more people with a few more bucks in their pockets (except the rich who have bushel baskets full of bucks) the Democrats running for President are going off the rails with issues that are non-starters or worse yet scare the livin’ daylights out of many voters.

Elizabeth Warren started off  with some likely popular policy recommendations-free day care, tax reform for the middle class and the break-up of the social media giants. But then recently she and other pretenders to the White House started talking about reparations for slavery, changing the constitution to do away with the Electoral College, packing the Supreme Court and embracing socialist-like policies as the answers to America’s income inequality disaster. Victory  for the Democrats in 2020 will not be won by fringe issues that most voters only have a passing understanding of or view as anti-American.

The Democrats continue to forget that they once were the party of the working men and women in this country and that Democratic Presidents like FDR, JFK, LBJ, Clinton and Obama won the White House because they talked the talk and walked the walk of the middle class. I still remember JFK standing in front of factory gates in Milwaukee, my hometown, shaking hands with workers and asking for their vote. Needless to say, he took Wisconsin in 1960.

If the Democrats want to win in 2020 they need to choose a candidate and forge a message around issues like tax reform for the middle class, infrastructure projects particularly in rural area and small towns, realistic climate change policies, affordable health care and scandal-free government. The American middle class is beginning to see that the Trump crowd is only out for the rich, the well born and of course Wall Street, but what they hear on the stump are Democrat candidates who either are fixated on Trump or introduce ideas that have zero chance of success.

If the Democrats want to win in 2020 they need to talk about fixing capitalism, not replacing it with “soft socialism.” Democrats need to talk the talk of all those carpenters, electricians, plumbers, nurses,  teachers, technicians, farmers, truck drivers, and waitstaff, who are looking for a leader who understands their life and their challenges. Democrats continue to be wedded to so-called identity politics – directing their policy prescriptions to African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, and Gays – rather than presenting policies directed at improving the lives and futures of the middle class, whatever their skin color, religion or sexual identity.

What this country has experienced these last two years is a class war clearly won by the Republicans and the White House as they effectively filled the pockets of the rich, gave crumbs to the rest and scared the middle class with bogus claims that the identity crowd was destroying America. To win the White House in 2020 the Democrats must change the political conversation and tell the middle class how a change of party in the White House will make their lives and their futures better. How about this for a Blue Hat logo – Make The Middle Class Great Again.

 


The Endgame

January 17, 2019

What might the end of the partial government shutdown look like? Of course the answer to that question is based on the assumption that Trump and Pelosi are able to put the national interest ahead of politics and ego. This might be too much to ask, but let’s give it the ol’ college try or better yet the ol’ rational leader try.

Scenario # 1 – Republican leaders in both house of Congress start to really feel the heat from constituents, especially those people standing in airport security lines for hours, and muster sufficient votes to override Trump’s veto ending the shutdown. Two-thirds of both the Senate and House would have to be on board but if Mitch McConnell gives the OK, Trump could save face and say he tried but Congress overruled him on the wall. This is not some wild/implausible scenario because politicians know when to “fold them” if they feel voter wrath.

Scenario # 2 – Nancy Pelosi uses some new number for border security and the wall in exchange for major immigration reform – protecting the Dreamers,  ending the roadblocks for those seeking asylum, and maybe even beginning a process of establishing a pathway to citizenship to those here illegally. Such a mega deal is likely a bit far fetched but Trump is so boxed into a corner right now that he might agree to a larger reform if he could claim some sort of victory, any victory.

Scenario # 3 – Government employees go to the streets and use the power of the media to further erode Trump’s position. Right now what is presented on news programs are singular stories of hardship, but if thousands of workers march on Washington or to the offices of members of Congress then a protest movement is formed that would be impossible to ignore. Add a bit of non-violent sit down strikes into the mix and those in power will be hard pressed to look away.

Scenario # 4 – Major business leaders band together and buy television time, stage a Twitter attack on Trump and reach out to members of Congress demanding that the shutdown end because it is costing their business and the national economy a fortune. If Congress won’t listen to the federal workers or CNN, they just might listen to the big banks, the Fortune 500 companies and all those billionaires who just want to end the uncertainty. Can you imagine the impact that public comments from Warren Buffett or Bill Gates demanding an end to shutdown would have on the White House and Congress?

Scenario # 5 – The President gives his State of the Union and continues his tirade against the Democrats for denying him the wall; Pelosi refuses to budge; the federal workers head deeper into debt, the country inches a bit closer to a recession, and Americans lose whatever confidence they have in government. The mess continues.

God Save the United States.